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Deve Gowda files papers for Rajya Sabha poll, Congress assures support

While JDS patriarch enjoys good rapport with BJP, he is aware Big 2 target his MLAs

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HD Devegowda

Bengaluru, June 9 : Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) supremo and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda filed his nomination, here on Tuesday, to contest the June 19 Rajya Sabha elections from Karnataka.

“Gowda filed nomination papers at the Vidhana Soudha by submitting them to Returning Officer M.K. Vishalakshi,” a party official told IANS. Vishalakshi is the Karnataka Assembly Secretary.

Gowda”s second son and former Minister H.D. Revanna and third son and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy were present on the occasion.

“We have advised our party leaders and workers not to assemble at the venue in view of the Covid-induced lockdown guidelines and to ensure social distancing,” said the official.

Some members of the Congress were present outside the Secretary”s office to greet Gowda and wish him best for the contest.

Gowda, 87, agreed to contest after the Congress assured him of its surplus votes, as the JD-S with 34 legislators is short of 10 votes to meet the required 44 votes.

“Congress chief Sonia Gandhi called Gowda on Sunday and requested him to contest and assured him of her party”s support,” the official said.

It will be second time Gowda will enter the Rajya Sabha, 24 years after he was its member as the Prime Minister from June 1996 to April 1997 in the United Front government of secular and regional parties.

With 68 lawmakers in the 225-member Assembly, the Congress will have 24 votes to spare after casting 44 ballots for its senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who filed nomination on Monday.

“Gowda will replace our member Kupendra Reddy whose 6-year term in the Upper House ends on June 25. He has not sought re-nomination,” said the official.

With the term of 4 members — two from the Congress (B.K. Hariprasad and Rajeev Gowda) and one each from the BJP (Prabhakar Kore) and the JD-S (Kupendra Reddy) — ending on June 25, the Election Commission on June 1 notified the election on June 19. Votes will be count on the same evening.

The nominations will be scrutinized on Wednesday. The last date for withdrawal is June 12.

From the ruling BJP, its grassroots workers Eranna Kadadi and Ashok Gasti filed nominations after Gowda.

Gowda lost the May 2019 general elections from Tumkur to G.S. Basvaraj of the BJP. His grandson Prajwal Gowda won from the JD-S bastion Hassan, defeating A. Manju of the BJP.

Kharge and Hariprasad lost the May 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Gulabarga (reserved) and Bangalore South seats to the BJP”s Umesh Yadav and Tejasvi Surya.

The BJP, which has 116 legislators and support of 2 Independents, will be able to send its two candidates to the Rajya Sabha and still have 30 surplus votes after using 88 votes for its two contestants.

By fielding Gowda for the fourth seat, the Congress and the JD-S, who are secular allies and had post-poll and pre-poll alliances for the Lok Sabha and the Assembly elections in May 2019 and May 2018, queered the BJP pitch to field another candidate to win a third seat.

–IANS

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Mahinda Rajapaksa sworn in as Sri Lanka’s new PM

According to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the new parliament will convene on August 20.

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Mahinda Rajapaksa

Colombo, Aug 9: Leader of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party Mahinda Rajapaksa took oath as the nation’s new prime minister on Sunday after his party secured a landslide victory in the recently concluded parliamentary election.

Rajapaksa took oath during a grand ceremony at Kelaniya Temple, a Buddhist temple on the outskirts of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo in the presence of the diplomatic community and legislators from the ruling and opposition parties, Xinhua news agency reported.

Rajapaksa was sworn in as the prime minister of the country for the fourth time.

Rajapaksa’s party won 145 seats in the August 5 election which was held to elect new legislators in a 225-member parliament.

His new cabinet will take oath later this week.

According to the Elections Commission, the parliamentary election held last Wednesday was one of the most peaceful held in Sri Lankan history with a 71 per cent voter turnout.

The election was held under strict health guidelines due to COVID-19 pandemic which has infected over 2,800 people in the country.

According to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the new parliament will convene on August 20.

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Bernie Sanders mulls ‘Make Billionaires Pay Act’, zones in on Bezos, Musk, Zuckerberg

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Bernie Sanders

New York, Aug 8 :J Three Senators, led by Bernie Sanders, have attracted global attention for introducing the “Make Billionaires Pay Act,” aiming to tax US tech’s top leaders tens of billions of dollars in wealth made during the coronavirus pandemic.

The “Make Billionaires Pay Act” would impose a one-time 60 per cent tax on wealth gains made by billionaires between March 18, 2020, and January 1, 2021.

Riding growing global despair about inequity, the Senators suggest that funds would be used to pay for out-of-pocket health-care expenses for all Americans for a year. Besides Sanders, the Senators are Ed Markey and Kirsten Gillibrand.

“Over and over again, we have been told that we cannot possibly afford to guarantee healthcare as a right by moving to a Medicare for All system – even on a temporary basis during the worst public health emergency in over a hundred years. Well, it turns out that is not quite accurate,” a post on Sanders’ Senate page argued.

“While a record-breaking 5.4 million Americans recently lost their health insurance, 467 billionaires in our country increased their wealth by an estimated $731.8 billion during the pandemic. Incredibly, as a result of the Trump tax giveaway to the rich, these billionaires currently pay a lower effective tax rate than teachers or truck drivers.”

Citing the Americans for Tax Fairness and Institute for Policy, Sanders said: “If we taxed 60 per cent of the windfall gains these billionaires made from March 18th until August 5th, we could raise $421.7 billion. That’s enough revenue to allow Medicare to pay all of the out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for everyone in America over the next 12 months (based on an estimate from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget).

“Yes, that’s right. By taxing 60 per cent of the wealth gains made by just 467 billionaires during this horrific pandemic, we could guarantee healthcare as a right for an entire year. And billionaires would still be able to pocket more than $310.1 billion in wealth gains during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.”

Illustrative examples cited include Jeff Bezos, whose wealth has gone up by 63 per cent or $71.3 billion during the pandemic, paying a one-time wealth tax of $42.8 billion; Elon Musk, whose wealth has nearly tripled during the pandemic from $24.6 billion to $70.5 billion, would pay a one-time wealth tax of $27.5 billion; Mark Zuckerberg, who is now worth $92.7 billion, up from $54.7 billion, would pay a one-time wealth tax of $22.8 billion and the Walton family, the wealthiest family in America, which has seen their wealth grow by $21.5 billion, would pay a one-time wealth tax of $12.9 billion.

“At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, when so many of our people are hurting, it is time to fundamentally change our national priorities. Instead of more tax breaks for the rich while more Americans die because they cannot afford to go to a doctor, let us expand Medicare and save lives by demanding that billionaires pay their fair share of taxes.”

Aiming to distinguish the not-so-super-rich from their moves, those with net worth of less than $1 billion wouldn’t pay more in taxes. While Zuckerberg, Bezos and the Waltons haven’t yet reacted, Musk took the challenge head on, with a meme. “Everytime the Bernster mentions a free government program, chug somebody else’s beer”, the irrepressible billionaire tweeted back.

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Rahul Gandhi Says Bihar Seat Sharing Formula With Allies Set to be Finalized Soon

For the seat sharing formula, Congress state in-charge Shakti Singh Gohil will travel this week to Bihar to hold talks with all the stakeholders, Rahul told the party workers while addressing a virtual meeting.

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Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has held a meeting with party workers of Bihar through video conferencing where he told them that the situation due to Covid-19 is pathetic and unemployment is rising in the country. He said that the Congress should prepare for the elections in the state with “positivity”.

Rahul Gandhi in his speech said that a seat sharing formula with alliance partners will be finalized in 15 to 20 days and asked Congress leaders to respect the allies and their leaders, sources said.

For the seat sharing formula, Congress state in-charge Shakti Singh Gohil will travel this week to Bihar to hold talks with all the stakeholders, Rahul told the party workers.

Leader in the Bihar Assembly Sadanand Singh requested Rahul Gandhi to finalise the alliances soon so that they get time to prepare for the elections. Many Congress leaders including former Minister Shakiluzzaman Ansari raised the issue of outsiders being given party tickets and asked the leadership to give tickets only to dedicated party workers in the wake of the recent rebellions in many states, said sources.

The Congress is set to contest the Bihar assembly elections in alliance with the RJD and other non-NDA constituents.

Chief National Media Coordinator of the Congress, Sanjiv Singh said that over 1000 Congress workers participated in the virtual meeting.

He said, “Rahulji said that he will be present in Bihar as and when the state unit desires.”

But the Congress has a tough task ahead on seat adjustment with the RJD which had bulldozed the Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections when Kirti Azad had to contest from Dhanbad in Jharkhand and Shakil Ahmed fought as an Independent.

In the 2015 Assembly elections, the RJD, JDU and the Congress contested the polls together and won handsomely. But the JDU later went over to the BJP.

There are about 100 seats which were contested by the JDU which are yet to be distributed amongst the alliance partners and the Congress too wants a major chunk from the pie, but sources say that the party may settle for 70 seats.

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